Monday, May 20, 2013

2013-05-18 Waterfall Wandering and Camping - Day 2

Waterfall Wandering and Camping Weekend
Day 2 - Saturday, May 18th, 2013
King Creek Falls, Spoonauger Falls, Cherry Hill Campground

Shortly after midnight we retired to our tents for the night and soon after that the rain started!  Heavy rain fell throughout the night.  By around 8:00am the rain let up enough for me to emerge from my tent into the soggy campground.

Jeff got up shortly after I did and we managed to get the campfire kicked up again.  We enjoyed some campfire coffee and breakfast and by 10:00am there was still no sign of Eric getting up.  So Jeff and I decided to head out for a couple of short waterfall hikes.

First up was King Creek Falls which is another one of my favorite waterfalls.  The trailhead is about a 10 minute drive from the campground and the hike is a relatively easy 1.0 mile each way out and back.  Despite a large number of vehicles at the trailhead parking area, we managed to not see anyone else on the trail or at the waterfall.

Water levels were high enough to make crossing the creek a challenge.  But we both managed to balance beam across some very slick logs without getting our boots wet, which was a good thing because I was running out of dry hiking boots!

The nice overcast sky made photo conditions about perfect and I got some pretty good shots of this spectacular waterfall!

King Creek Falls
 King Creek Falls

 Me and Jeff at King Creek Falls

On the hike back, I noticed some Pink Lady Slippers blooming along the trail.  There was a bunch of them and I was amazed I didn't notice any on the way in.  I would have preferred to have my Macro Lens for these, but my wide angle lens did an OK job!

Pink Lady Slipper

Next up for Jeff and I would be Spoonauger Falls.  I have only been there once before and I was less than impressed.  However, that was during a dry summer.  With the wet spring we have been having and a good amount of rain the night before, I figured it would be worth another try.

However, my last visit was so long ago, I forgot how to get there.  So we hiked up the trail for about a half mile to a creek crossing and went looking for a side trail up the creek.  There was no sign of any side trail because we were hiking up the Foothills Trail and we should have been hiking up the Chattooga River Trail.

Side Note for a future visit:  If we were to attempt a bushwhack up this stream, I bet there are some waterfalls to be discovered.

But since I didn't think Jeff was into the off trail bushwhacking we returned back to the trailhead and figured out my navigational error.

We drove down the road a short ways and parked by the bridge to begin our hike up the Chattooga River Trail.  It was amazing how much easier it is to find Spoonauger Falls when you are hiking the correct trail!

The much higher water flow made this one much more impressive than I was expecting!  And the nice overcast sky made for perfect photo conditions!

 Spoonauger Falls

 Me and Jeff at Spoonauger Falls

 Spoonauger Falls

The only negative thing was when trying to position myself for a good photo angle, I slipped and fell in the creek completely saturating my 3rd pair of hiking boots!

After our hikes, Jeff and I returned to the campground to meet back up with Eric.  There was no sign of Eric!  His vehicle was still there, but he was not in his tent.  After about a half hour we started to get a little worried, when he finally emerged from one of the Campground Showers!

After a nice campfire lunch, I was ready for another hike while Jeff and Eric wanted to make a drive into town to pick up some essentials.

I decided to hike the Big Bend Trail down to the Chattooga River.  The trail starts right across the road from the campgroud and is 2.7 miles one way down to the river.  It is a very pleasant trail, but nothing spectacular.  There are a few ups and downs, but very little elevation change until the last quarter mile as it makes the final descent down to the river.

 The Chattooga River

I was planning to head to Big Bend Falls, but the sky was getting very dark and a light rain had started falling.  So I decided to turn back.  I hiked back via Big Bend Road which roughly parrelles the Big Bend Trail.  The road walk is probably a little shorter than the trail, but it seemed to have much more elevation changes and was not as enjoyable.

The light rain turned a bit heavier towards the end of my hike but seemed to completely stop once I entered the campground.  But that would definitely change!

I managed to snap off a group photo at our campsite before the downpoars when I decided to put my camera away for good.

Jeff, Me, and Eric at the Campground

The rain really started falling and never let up.  Fortunately we had a nice bed of coals in the campfire and made it our goal for the evening to keep it going and use up all our wood!  Despite the rain, it was still a very enjoyable evening.  Jeff got a pot of oil going and made up some awesome Onion Rings, Friend Shrimp, and Fried Chicken and there were plenty of FABs consumed between the three of us!

Jeff's Canopy kept us relatively dry except for the river flowing at our feet soaking my last pair of dry footwear! 

Shortly after midnight, I made the mad dash through the rain to my tent.  There were some minor leaks around the edges, but fortunately my sleeping bag was mostly dry.  The rain did not let up at all throughout the night and I was dreading having to pack up camp in the rain!

Fortunately by around 8:00am it had reduced to just a light mist and I was able to get my gear all packed up.  I though briefly about getting in a Sunday Morning Hike, but since I was all out of dry boots I was eager to head on home!

It was another very enjoyable Waterfall Wandering and Camping Weekend!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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